by Louis Hoglund, Managing Editor

An Australian community’s plans to out-size Pelican Pete has generated inter-continental interest–including three recent “down under” visitors. 

There has also been some more media attention, as the Community Coast News carried a story about the good natured rift between Pelican Rapids and The  Entrance, a coastal town that is proposing a pelican statue that would be taller than Pelican Pete. 

“Pelican Rapids have owned the bragging rights of the world’s largest pelican since 1957,” wrote the Coast News. “If plans for the pelican at The Entrance go ahead, the Central Coast will trump Pete by about a metre in size.”

Lynette Carter is from the very community that is threatening to steal the title of “World’s Largest Pelican” from Pelican Rapids. While on a visit to the U.S. in September, she and friends from Shakopee drove several hundred miles out of their way to visit Pelican, and the famous Pelican Pete.

“We’ve come to steal your thunder,” laughed Lynnette Carter, who recently visited the Pelican visitor center. In fact, she lives in the very community that is challenging Pelican Pete–and made a special trip to Pelican Rapids while visiting Minnesota. Pelican was a few hundred miles out of the way.

“Seriously I loved the atmosphere of your town and the participation of various stores to individualize their pelicans,” said Carter. “You have a great community with friendly vibes and yes we all bought the sweatshirts.”

Her Australian charm only goes so far, when it comes to the pelican stand-off. 

“Well–the Australian pelican is a bigger bird than your white pelican.  Our country is bigger than Minnesota.  If you place an image of the U.S. over Australia, you’ll find that Australia is also bigger than your entire country,” said Carter.  “So, of course we should have a bigger pelican.” 

I think she forgot that Alaska is part of the U.S.  

Her connection to pelicans is interesting. As an environmentalist, she has been active in rescue and rehabilitations organizations for sea birds–including pelicans. She’s also part of a movement taking on the government of Japan over the whaling industry.  Decades ago, she was already writing letters about rainforest destruction. 

She was at a meeting recently where the idea of a big pelican statue for the coastal area was discussed.  She raised her hand, and said “I’m going to Minnesota this fall.” 

And that’s how Lynnette Carter came to visit Pelican Rapids: On a fact-finding tour–or as a foreign agitator, depending on your point of view.   

Aussie auto racer enjoyed visiting area, but “not impressed” with Pelican Pete 

Australian couple Glenn and Joanne Mitchell, enjoying a meal in downtown Pelican Rapids, at the Muddy Moose

Visiting recently from near Sydney, Australia, Glenn and Joanne Mitchell spent time with Scott and Carla Richardson, and of course, they were accompanied to the roost of the reigning “World’s Largest Pelican.” Glenn is an auto-racer, and so is Scott (Rapids Brake and Alignment).  They both raced at events locally, and as far away as Wisconsin.  

Glenn is a nice, friendly guy, with a thick Aussie accent.  In fact, he enjoyed Minnesota so much, he plans to be back next year for several months–including another visit with the Richardsons. Though he spoke fondly of Minnesota, when it came to the pelican issue there was no question about his loyalties. 

The Mitchells at the Pelican Pete damsite in Pelican Rapids.

“I just wasn’t overly impressed with the size of your Pelican…The one we build will be a 100 percent improvement,” said Glenn. When Australia completes its giant pelican “Pelican  Rapids will probably have to pull down your statue–in shame.”

Australia is home to giant banana, potato

Australia and Minnesota have more than just pelicans in common.  Like our Paul Bunyan and Babe (Bemidji); giant prairie chicken (Rothsay); and immense muskie (Nevis); they also like larger-than-life stuff in Australia.  

The “Big Banana” at Coff’s Harbor is about the size of the Muddy Moose building–where Glenn and Joanne were enjoying lunch, with Carla Richardson recently.  

Aussie Carter sent a list of all of the odd statues in Australia. 

“I have attached a list of my state’s  BIG stuff (approx 40) which is according to my research, way below Minnesota’s list of  largest strange objects. Thus I think it’s reasonable to add the largest  pelican for NSW seeing you have already so many,” she wrote in her email note. 

Here are a few of Australia’s oddities: 

• Big potato, in Robertson, Aus. 

• Big tennis racquet, in Barelian

• Big mosquito, Hexham 

• Big wine bottle, Pokolbin 

• Big wine cask, Mourquong 

• Big golden guitar 

• Big bicycle, Chullora 

• Big beer can, Cobar 

• Big avocado, Duranbah

• Big ant, Broken Hill

• Big rubik’s cube, Maroubra